Province considers vehicle seizures to curb highway speeding
Published Monday, May 28, 2012 1:41PM MDT
Drivers caught speeding on Alberta highways could soon have their vehicles seized.
The province is considering giving police the authority to immediately seize vehicles of those caught driving at extreme speeds.
It's a measure that the province hopes will reduce highway deaths and injuries.
Police in Alberta formally requested such a policy aimed at drivers speeding more than 50 km/h over the limit in 2009 but the government turned them down at the time.
After a tragic crash on Highway 63 that killed seven people in April, and the negative attention that crash attracted, spot-on seizing of vehicles is now being discussed inside the legislature.
Transportation Minister Ric McIver said a number of ideas have been brought to the table on how to make travelling on Highway 63 safer.
"No decisions have been made but everything is on the table for discussion and consideration," McIver tells CTV News.
"Our government is looking at a whole range of enforcement, engineering solutions, education solutions, to keep Albertans safer. We've really tried to keep an open mind and say we'll consider anything while we put a plan together."
A similar policy was brought in by British Columbia in 2010 for people caught driving more than 40 km/h over the speed limit.
Within one year, the number of fatal and injury-related crashes related to speeding was cut in half to 105 compared to the previous five-year average, according to the B.C. Ministry of Justice.
McIver says B.C.'s success is how the policy resurfaced in Alberta.
"That's kind of where the idea came from, somebody said well they do this in another province, maybe you should do it here," he said.
"So we'll evaluate and consider that amongst a pretty wide range of other options."
McIver said the government would also take into account public opinion on the policy.
"Rule changes always work better when the public in general support the rule changes so we need to get a sense for that," he said.
News of the potential crackdown prompted strong reactions from Edmontonians.
Many voiced their support and concerns about the policy on CTV Edmonton's Facebook page Sunday.
"[It's] kind of a slippery slope when you give sheriffs and RCMP the power to effectively convict someone on the spot," Jody Anderson wrote.
"To me, it seems like an excuse law for the government, so that they look like they are doing something about Highway 63," said Joel Teeling.
"It obviously works for our neighbouring province, let's do it here," wrote Corinne Willier.
"Yes, yes, yes, yes. This should have been done years ago," said Veronica Grapes.
After a major traffic enforcement blitz earlier this month, the RCMP said too many drivers on Highway 63 and across the province simply "aren't getting the message."
"At the end of the day, this is not about resources or whether enough of our highways are twinned, this is about driver behaviour, and the decisions drivers are making when they're out on our highways," RCMP C/Supt. Rick Taylor told CTV News earlier this month.
Under Alberta's current traffic laws, speeders who drive more than 50 kilometres over the limit are fined, given six demerit points and have to make a court appearance.
With files from Sean Amato and The Canadian Press